01/25/2007 12:00AM

Attila's Storm should appreciate drop


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - At this time a year ago, Attila's Storm's career seemed ready to take off. Coming off a good second in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita, Attila's Storm went into the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap as a strong favorite.

Attila's Storm came up on the short end of a three-horse photo, finishing third behind Major Success and Jet West, beaten a neck. Worse yet, he emerged from the race with a fractured hind leg that would require surgery and knock him out most of the year.

Attila's Storm made it back to the races by the fall and competed in three Grade 1 events, but had nothing to show for it but some gutty efforts and a couple of bad feet.

With those problems seemingly behind him, Attila's Storm takes a much appreciated class drop as he begins his 5-year-old campaign in Saturday's ungraded $65,000 Paumonok Handicap. Though his competition includes the Grade 1-winning Bishop Court Hill, it does not include the likes of Thor's Echo - recently voted champion sprinter - and the multiple Grade 1 winner Henny Hughes.

"Not that [Bishop Court Hill] is any slouch, but compared to what we've been running against I would have to say this is a better spot to try and get him back to the winner's circle," trainer Richard Schosberg said.

In last November's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Attila's Storm finished fifth, 4 3/4 lengths behind Thor's Echo. According to Schosberg, Attila's Storm was stepped on and had a hind shoe bent in the race. Schosberg brought Attila's Storm back three weeks later in the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Dash, where he finished a well-beaten seventh, nine lengths behind Thor's Echo.

"I think we ran in the De Francis because it was a Grade 1, and I think in retrospect he probably needed more time to recover from the Breeders' Cup and the Vosburgh," Schosberg said. "It was a combination of a lot of things: a rough trip in the De Francis, he came back a little banged up - the back foot itself healed up okay; that did not seem to be an issue. He came back with a sore front foot after the De Francis."

Schosberg said he has not mapped out a campaign for Attila's Storm, though he lets himself dream about a third consecutive start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint when he notes that Attila's Storm is undefeated at Monmouth Park, the site of this year's Breeders' Cup on Oct. 27.

"Everything depends on how we do this weekend," Schosberg said. "I still think he's a Grade 1 horse. . . . I think he can at least run with the best horses around."

Other stakes on Schosberg's agenda

In addition to bringing a good horse into the Paumonok, Schosberg's confidence is buoyed by the fact that his barn has been hot since Jan. 1. Schosberg went 1 for 2 at Aqueduct on Thursday, and is now 7 for 17 in 2007 and 10 for 35 since the inner track opened on Nov. 29.

New York-breds Towering Escape and Touchdown Kid are recent winners being pointed to upcoming stakes engagements.

Towering Escape, a winner of three consecutive starts, including two open-company allowance races, is expected to start in the $65,000 Correction Handicap on Feb. 3. Touchdown Kid, a 2 1/2-length winner of a second-level open-company race, may run next in the Hollie Hughes Handicap on Feb. 18 or the Champagneforashley Stakes going around two turns on Feb. 14.

Schosberg kept Towering Escape out of the Interborough Handicap on New Year's Day to run in a second-level allowance on the same card.

"I didn't want to go in off of two wins because it still didn't tell me where she was," Schosberg said. "If she won the next race, then I would say you won three in a row, it's time to run in a stakes race - and she did win, and she won it convincingly. She still has to step it up if everybody who plans on running runs their 'A' race."

Touchdown Kid has had a history of foot problems, but Schosberg obviously had those corrected last Sunday when Touchdown Kid ran six furlongs in 1:10.96 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

"He's had some foot issues; I ran him in an aluminum pad on a back shoe because he was really tender on a back foot," Schosberg said. "You have to have him 99.9 percent for him to run his 'A' race and we did have him that way."

Dominguez impressed with 'Troy'

For the first time in 10 months, Ramon Dominguez climbed aboard the back of Achilles of Troy and was instantly reminded just why he was so excited to have been associated with the horse in the first place.

Dominguez guided Achilles of Troy through a five-furlong move in 58.88 seconds Thursday at Aqueduct, blowing past a horse who had been a sixteenth of a mile in front of him.

"As I approached the five-eighths pole, there was a horse Mike Smith was on about to breeze a half-mile; he was way ahead of me," Dominguez said. "[Achilles of Troy] just blew by him like he was standing still - he beat him pretty easy. But the whole time he was very much within himself; I couldn't believe he went that fast and doing it so easy. He went super."

Dominguez was aboard Achilles of Troy for a 4 3/4-length victory in the Whirlaway Stakes in February before finishing fifth in the Gotham, a race in which he was vanned off.

Dominguez said that when he went to the barn to breeze Achilles of Troy, he walked right by the flashy gray colt's stall.

"I didn't even recognize him because he had changed that much," Dominguez said. "He used to be a thin horse, kind of small; he filled out real nice. I got up on him and just looking down at his neck, his neck is so much thicker, he looks like a bigger horse. He really grew."

Achilles of Troy has had six works since Dec. 27 and will likely return to the races in early February.